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Opt Express. 2013 Jan 14;21(1):60-9. doi: 10.1364/OE.21.000060.

Low-cost board-to-board optical interconnects using molded polymer waveguide with 45 degree mirrors and inkjet-printed micro-lenses as proximity vertical coupler.

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  • 1Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78758, USA.


We demonstrate intra- and inter-board level optical interconnects using polymer waveguides and waveguide couplers consisting of both 45 degree total internal reflection (TIR) mirrors and inkjet-printed micro-lenses. Surface normal couplers consisting of 50 µm × 50 µm waveguides with embedded 45 degree mirrors are fabricated using a nickel mold imprint. Micro-lenses, 70 µm in diameter, are inkjet-printed on top of the mirrors. We characterize the optical transmission between waveguides located on different boards in terms of insertion loss, mirror coupling loss, and free space propagation loss as a function of interconnection distance in free space. Each mirror contributes 1.88 dB loss to the system, corresponding to 65% efficiency. The printed micro-lenses improve the transmission by 2-4 dB (per coupler). Data transmission at 10 Gbps reveals that inter-board interconnects has a bit error rate (BER) of 1.1 × 10(-10) and 6.2 × 10(-13) without and with the micro-lenses, respectively.

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